As a child, I recall family car trips across Texas, heading off for a vacation or moving to a new city to live. Scrunched in the back seat between my brother and sister, my thoughts were often occupied with trying to get comfortable or with whether I could wait until the next restroom stop.
My father, though, was usually preoccupied with looking out the window, and often he discussed with us what he saw. As one landscape blended into another, he would point out trees and flowers, a bird circling in the air and another perched on a fencepost. He talked about the lay of the land, how it had formed, and how people and animals existed there in the past. At times he would spot a deer and pull over so we could all get a look. Even though I would strain to focus where his finger pointed, I often saw only a frustrating jumble of tree limbs and grass.
Back then, if I had my choice during these trips, I probably would've passed the time listening to the radio, reading comic books, or giggling with my siblings. It wasn't until later in life that I appreciated the fact that my father had instilled in me a love and respect for Texas, for the expanse of the land, and for the plants and animals that live here. Now that I have children of my own, I too want them to learn respect for nature and to cherishtime spent in the beauty of Texas outdoors. That is the goal of this book--to give children and their parents, teachers, and youth leaders a guide to exploring and appreciating the majesty and diversity of nature in Texas.
Each chapter of the book lists and describes a different area of nature exploration, from quiet study in a city setting to participation in challenging, active eco-sports. When appropriate, each listing in this book is followed by initials in brackets identifying the area where the program or place is located in the state. These areas represent the seven major topographical regions of Texas and coincide with those described in brochures and other information available from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.
I hope this guide will assist adults in exploring the natural world with children so that another generation of kids can grow up learning to appreciate and respect the great Texas outdoors.